All websites in the UTN infrastructure are hosted using NGINX. NGINX is a efficient web server that can host many websites efficiently and has options to support almost any need a web server might have.

Most UTN deployments are done using Ansible and that the NGINX configurations for those applications is located within the Ansible repository.

All configurations for the websites that NGINX serves are available on the server in the /etc/nginx/sites-available folder. In general we try to give each file the name of the website(FQDN) that it serves. To enable on of the websites we can simply symlink the configuration file to /etc/nginx/sites-available (e.g., ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/ /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/

Useful commands

The commands you should keep in mind when working with NGINX are the following:

  • nginx -t, to test if the configurations are valid. (This will avoid blank pages for users.)
  • systemctl reload nginx, to start using the configurations currently enabled.
  • systemctl restart nginx, to restart the whole web server.

These commands need to be run as the root user.

Example configuration

Most UTN websites are PHP-based applications and use SSL/HTTP2 connections (using Let’s Encrypt certificates). An example configuration for such applications is the following (based on the NGINX configuration for

server {
  listen 80;
  listen [::]:80;
  rewrite ^$request_uri? permanent;

server {
  listen 443 ssl http2;
  listen [::]:443 ssl http2;

  ssl_certificate /etc/letsencrypt/live/;
  ssl_certificate_key /etc/letsencrypt/live/;

  ssl on;
  ssl_session_cache  builtin:1000  shared:SSL:10m;
  ssl_session_timeout 1h;
  ssl_protocols  TLSv1 TLSv1.1 TLSv1.2;
  ssl_prefer_server_ciphers on;

  root /var/www/;

  index index.php index.html index.htm;

  # Very rarely should these ever be accessed outside of your lan
  location ~* \.(log)$ {
      deny all;

  location = /robots.txt {
      allow all;
      log_not_found off;
      access_log off;

  # Allow "Well-Known URIs" as per RFC 5785
  location ~* ^/.well-known/ {
      allow all;

  location ~ \..*/.*\.php$ {
      return 403;

  # Block access to "hidden" files and directories whose names begin with a
  # period. This includes directories used by version control systems such
  # as Subversion or Git to store control files.
  location ~ (^|/)\. {
    return 403;

  location ~ \.php(/|$) {
    fastcgi_split_path_info ^(.+?\.php)(|/.*)$;
    include fastcgi_params;
    fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME $document_root$fastcgi_script_name;
    fastcgi_param PATH_INFO $fastcgi_path_info;
    fastcgi_intercept_errors on;
    fastcgi_pass unix:/var/run/php/php7.2-fpm.sock;

Further reading: